Random Madrid thoughts

We’ve had a quiet few days in Madrid. Jennifer is channeling her inner vampire with meetings all night and sleeping during the day. I’ve been doing some sightseeing and shopping.

Madrid is big

Walking around central Madrid means adjusting your sense of scale. Avenues are like motorways, city blocks stretch into the distance, buildings are built on a heroic scale. That said, the scale is a product of the city’s historic richness and it’s very beautiful.

The Prado is big

The Prado is also big. But it is very approachable. The Velasquez collection is beautiful, they have the largest collection of Rueben’s anywhere, and there are little bits of random beauty in hidden corners. Fort some reason I really adore this man with a candle – it’s lovely, and there a sense of immanent danger that if he leans forward to read the paper better he’s going to set his beard on fire.

Our estate is big

Our apartment is in the Cuidad de Los Poetas, the City of Poets. It is an absolutely enormous complex of flats. The lovely thing is that is some other places it would be dangerous or at least intimidating, but here it seems safe and friendly. I think that may be because there are shops and bars on the ground floor spilling out into courtyards so there’s a sense of shared space that belongs to everyone from kids to old people.

Language is not absolute

In my Spanish classes we tend to get taught that x is the way people say things. But the on-the-ground reality is often less formal and more open to change. The other day I was ‘helping’ my brother-in-law to fix an electrical problem with his pool. He taught me the Spanish word for a wire connector – clema. But it turns out that although everyone in Spain uses that word, it’s not Spanish; it’s actually Romanian, because most electricians in Spain come from Romania.

A good metro is the best

Madrid has a brilliant metro system. Trains run every two to five minutes. This morning I caught six trains in succession going to the South of Madrid and back and I spent a total of six minutes waiting on platforms. (And four of those minutes were because I missed a train by a fingernail and so had to wait a full four minutes for the next one.) That sort of speedy travel changes how you think about going places on public transport.

Little things are different

We’ve spent a lot of time in Spain over the last few years and are beginning to feel if not local, then at least experienced. Then something will hit us with how different things really are. Today I went shopping for hiking socks in the center of Madrid. There were certainly differences in the brands stocked and the approach in the shops, but it was all just a little bit different. Until I came to the section selling replica guns…

Hasta luego

Tomorrow we make our way to Italy. In what seems like a strange thing it’ll be the first time I a few years we’ve been somewhere neither of us can speak the language at all (unless you count Glasgow).

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